To increase productivity and safeguard the soil, the American University of Beirut is engaged in a project aimed at direct sowing, without tillage. And it's making big savings for Lebanese farmers.
In order to safeguard the soil over time, sowing is carried out with as little impact as possible on the soil surface, by avoiding soil preparation as far as possible. Farmers do not use tractors with ploughing implements for deep tillage because their weight reduces the formation of micro-organisms that are vital for fertility. A layer of previous crop residue (or vetch) is also left lying on the surface of the ground, to prevent evaporation and keep the soil moist even at times of drought.
This type of soil covering also has the advantage of reducing the use of herbicides, thus reducing production costs significantly.
The project involves on-site training for farmers aimed at promoting the advantages of this technique in terms of increased yields, especially from fruit trees.
To understand just how powerful this initiative has been, you only need to look at the results achieved over the past four years: yields have risen by approximately 15%, while production costs have fallen by 20% to 30% (including fuel savings).
This programme offers long-term benefits because it restores the soil to its original condition and minimises long-term risks to the harvest caused by climate changes.